One of the saddest pieces of news to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, other than the mounting death toll caused by the virus itself, is the increasing number of reports about suicide in the United States.
If there ever was a clear sign of a diseased culture lacking a proper view of the things of this world, the alarming statistics highlighted below confirm it.
According to KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus outbreak is having “a big impact” on people’s mental health.
The outlet reports that during a news conference on Tuesday, Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said calls for threats or attempts of suicide are up 41 percent over this time last year and are 23 percent higher from the 10 days prior to the state of emergency the city declared.
“We do know that people are struggling, and we want to get out as many resources to folks as possible by encouraging you to contact friends and family, whether it’s by phone, text, video chat. Check in with each other, know that there are resources available,” Resch said.
Valley News Live, an NBC affiliate in Fargo, North Dakota, reported that FirstLink, a local company that answers the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, said calls have “gone up 300% nationally.”
“Let’s not forget each other just checking in and make sure that we’re all doing okay,” said Cindy Miller, FirstLink Executive Director.https://t.co/OvjkXoGQcz
— Valley News Live (@ValleyNewsLive) March 24, 2020
Moreover, the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, reported that the state’s suicide prevention call centers are experiencing a 20 percent increase in regular volume.
It’s an ugly side effect of the nationwide lockdown, one that some on the left are saying will need to continue for many more months.
Thankfully, President Donald Trump has not been ignorant of these unnerving statistics.
During his virtual town hall Tuesday on Fox News earlier this week, the president argued that if people are not able to go back to work soon there will be “suicides by the thousands.”
“We have to put the country to work,” Trump said at a news briefing Tuesday. “People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies.”
There’s a good deal of truth in what the president is saying. USA Today essentially confirmed his point in a report published Monday on why suicide rates are higher during a pandemic.
“Experts caution there is no single cause of suicide. But getting laid off, losing a safe place to live and taking on new family responsibilities are the kinds of adversity that can elevate suicide risk,” reporter Alia Dastagir wrote.
— USA TODAY Health (@USATODAYhealth) March 24, 2020
While I don’t deny that any of what the president and USA Today are saying is true, I have to wonder just what the increase in suicides says about the spiritual well-being of our nation right now.
I mean, work is not everything. Material well-being is not everything. This world is passing away. Our Lord, in the Gospel of Matthew, says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
This isn’t to be flippant about the very real crisis millions of Americans are being confronted with right now. Businesses that people have operated their entire lives are going under. And rising unemployment means many of the essentials needed for survival and a good, quality life can’t be purchased.
But man is not saved by bread alone, and the love of money is the root of all evil.
So, sure, let’s get the economy up and running again. It might well prevent Americans from having these terrible thoughts.
But there are two things we should keep in mind as we move forward: One, work isn’t the answer to everything. God is. And two, people should only go back to their jobs when it’s safe to do so. Many Republican lawmakers agree with me on that.
This is the stark truth: we have to arrest the spread of the China virus to get the economy back on its feet & get life back to something like normal. https://t.co/KNUTXNIpnL
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 24, 2020
There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus. https://t.co/AchwfXtuLi
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 24, 2020
If the increase in suicide rates during the coronavirus outbreak reveals anything, it’s that Americans are in desperate need of God, of Jesus Christ, and of a country that lives out the Gospel command to love your neighbor as yourself.
Now is indeed the time to reach out to those who are anxious about what’s going to happen and to convince them to put their trust in Jesus Christ.
As Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
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